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Lawmakers unveil bill to hold employers responsible for supervisors’ sexual harassment

“A coalition of congressional Democrats, backed by much of organized labor, introduced legislation on Mar. 14 to hold employers responsible for their lower-level supervisors’ sexual harassment of workers on the job.

“The Fair Employment Protection Act would overturn a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limits employer responsibility for sexual harassment. The court said that if supervisors who direct employees’ daily work, but do not have the power to hire, fire or discipline workers, harass the workers, then the employer is not legally responsible for the supervisors’ actions.

“The new measure would make the employer responsible for those low-level supervisors’ harassment, in suits under civil rights laws. It would not change who is a “supervisor” under federal labor law.”

Read the full article here.

Fast Food Workers Arrest Ronald McDonald At Wage Theft Protest

“Last week, multiple class action lawsuits were filed by McDonald’s workers in New York, California, and Michigan alleging wage theft by the multi-billion dollar food service corporation. The claims included being prevented from clocking in at the time of employees’ scheduled shift, no overtime pay, and no compensation for the purchase and maintenance of uniforms. This afternoon, Public Advocate Tish James joined the fray in a demonstration in front of a Herald Square McDonald’s, announcing a plan to introduce an anonymous whistle-blower hotline and expand city authority regarding wage theft violations.

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“The demonstration took place in light of the announcement yesterday that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had settled with the owner of seven McDonald’s franchise locations in New York for $500,000, which will be distributed to more than 1,600 current and former employees. New York has been highly visible in the fight for fast food workers rights, with Schneiderman introducing a Fast Food Worker Complaint Form, high-profile walk-outs and protests, including today’s latest rally.”

Read the full article here.

LOW-WAGE WORKERS ARE FINDING POVERTY HARDER TO ESCAPE

“Climbing above the poverty line has become more daunting in recent years, as the composition of the nation’s low-wage work force has been transformed by the Great Recession, shifting demographics and other factors. More than half of those who make $9 or less an hour are 25 or older, while the proportion who are teenagers has declined to just 17 percent from 28 percent in 2000, after adjusting for inflation, according to Janelle Jones and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic Policy Research.

“Today’s low-wage workers are also more educated, with 41 percent having at least some college, up from 29 percent in 2000. “Minimum-wage and low-wage workers are older and more educated than 10 or 20 years ago, yet they’re making wages below where they were 10 or 20 years ago after inflation,” said Mr. Schmitt, senior economist at the research center. “If you look back several decades, workers near the minimum wage were more likely to be teenagers — that’s the stereotype people had. It’s definitely not accurate anymore.””

Read the full article in the NY Times Business section here.

Closing the Wage Gap is Especially Important for Women of Color in Difficult Times

American women who work full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. But the wage gap is even larger for many women of color working full time, year round, as African-American women are paid only 62 cents, and Hispanic women only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. 

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Read the full fact sheet by the National Women’s Law Center here